Marcus Didius Falco and his laddish friend Petronius find their local fountain has been blocked -- by a gruesomely severed human hand. Soon other body parts are being found in the aqueducts and sewers. Public panic overcomes official indifference, and the Aventine partners are commissioned to investigate. Women are being abducted during festivals, and the next Games are only days away. As the heat rises in the Circus Maximus, they face a race against time and a strong test of their friendship. And they know that the sadistic killer lurks somewhere on the festive streets of Rome -- preparing to strike again.